Step up the fight!

THE HALF-MILLION or so workers who marched through London last Saturday showed the bourgeoisie that there is mass opposition to their brutal package of cuts and that it can be mobilised by the labour movement to deliver that message to the Government and the ruling class. Whether that opposition turns into concrete resistance to the Tory-led coalition is, of course, another matter.

Meanwhile the bourgeois media has eagerly focused on the antics of a handful of anarchists to raise the spectre or mob rule and dismiss the protest altogether.

The rich have, naturally, feared the power of the mob since the days of the French revolution. And they would have been none too happy at the approval of some of the marchers to the masked youths trashing Fortnum & Mason’s or crashing the Ritz Hotel last weekend. But the general feeling was indifference to this form of direct action. And not without reason.

Wearing masks and hoods may be inspired by the spirit of Michael Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin but it’s hardly in the same league as the anarchist terror of the 19th century, which claimed the lives of a Russian Czar, the kings of Greece and Italy, an American and a French president, a Spanish prime minister and many others with their daggers, guns and bombs.

Smashing the windows of a bank or paint-bombing police vans may give the perpetrators some sort of feeling of power and importance but it accomplishes nothing apart from unleashing a wave of hypocritical condemnation from a bourgeois media that cheers on imperialist violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and routinely ignores the daily racist abuse and violence on our streets.

What it does do is play into the hands the authorities to justify kettling and police violence. No wonder the venal, paid media of the ruling class focused on the antics of the “black bloc” to paint the massive protest as a Trojan Horse for anarchy and dismiss it altogether.

Certainly supporters of direct action go far beyond the ranks of anarchism. Non-violent direct action inspired by the old suffragette movement and Gandhi has been the mainstay of peace protests for decades. There’s always going to be a role for this type of protest but there’s no substitute for mass industrial action.

Now there was plenty of talk about a fight-back in the crowd and on the rostrum last weekend. It range from co-ordinated strike action on the major cutbacks in public pension schemes to a general strike; meanwhile mobilising votes for Labour at the next general election is plainly all that Miliband & Co have in mind.

Waiting for the next general election is a recipe for accepting everything Cameron and Clegg are going to throw at us over the next four years. But the alternative — mass industrial action — will only happen if the union leaderships are prepared to defy the anti-union laws and go ahead with solidarity strikes regardless of the financial penalties they may incur. That will only happen if there is sufficient mass support for the struggle at rank-and-file level.

Communists, along with the rest of the left in the British labour movement, will have to push this top of the agenda in the coming weeks to build the resistance to the cuts on the foundation laid by last weekend’s march.